Nurturing the Future Workforce: UKG Examines Dynamic Between Gen Z and the Manufacturing Sector

  • Research Released Ahead of MFG Day 2021 Drives at Addressing Critical Talent Gaps, Attracting Next-Gen Workers

Gen Z doesn’t want just a job, but a workplace where they belong, can develop a career path, and feel valued and trusted and many claim to have found that working in modern manufacturing. New research announced by UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) and launched in partnership with IndustryWeek finds 92% of Gen Z talent employed within manufacturing are satisfied with their current careers.

“Educating and engaging the next-generation workforce early and often is one of the most important factors in shifting perceptions of the industry and closing the skills gap”

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“We know that attracting Gen Z talent is a high or very high priority for 88% of manufacturers, many of which are straining to build a talent pipeline while nurturing their current workforce and navigating their recoveries from the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important they understand what Gen Z@ cares most about in order to inform more effective talent strategies moving forward,” said Kylene Zenk, director of the manufacturing practice at UKG.

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Attracting Gen Z is More Often a Struggle for HR Leaders than Dealing with COVID-19-Related Issues

Manufacturers are facing intense pressure to attract and retain next-gen workers: Three in four admit finding (75%) and keeping (74%) talent is difficult, and one in three (34%) feel like they lag behind the rest of their peers.

Findings suggest HR’s job is harder than ever, because Gen Z expects a wide range of benefits and opportunities. From good pay (75%), opportunities for advancement (72%), and work-life balance (71%) to having a great boss (71%), schedule flexibility (70%), and competitive benefits (70%) — Gen Z deems these workplace features “extremely” or “very” important to achieving the holistic workplace experience they crave.

Driving Alignment of HR Strategies to the Voice of Gen Z is Essential

Released on the eve of MFG Day 2021 a yearly celebration organized by The Manufacturing Institute and sponsored annually by UKG The 2021 Future Manufacturing Workforce Study examines insights from HR leaders and Gen Z@ employees in manufacturing to create alignment between today’s talent management strategies and what Gen Z wants from the workplace. The research informs five key HR strategies to succeed in recruiting and retaining Gen Z:

  • Create a seamless onboarding experience that rolls into an actionable training and development plan. Clear goals and transparent career pathing drive job satisfaction for two-thirds of Gen Z talent (67%), while three in 10 (28%) say opportunities for advancement are “extremely important” — more so than having time off from work (26%).
  • It’s not all about pay: Prioritize work-life balance by offering competitive time off and flexible work schedules. Work-life balance ranks high on Gen Z talent’s career wish list, while more time off (31%) and flexible scheduling options (22%) are among the top three reasons an otherwise-satisfied Gen Z@ employee would change jobs.
  • Use HR and workforce data to examine catalysts for Gen Z turnover. The majority of HR leaders (77%) report that 11%-20% of their Gen Z workforce turns over annually, so understanding if turnover is higher in a certain location or under a certain supervisor, for example, enables organizations to effectively reverse unfavorable trends.
  • Engage digital natives with modern, consumer-grade technology. Gen Z@ has always had access to information when and where they need it in their personal lives, making it imperative for manufacturers to satisfy workplace expectations for technology — yet, only 41% of Gen Z employees in manufacturing today can swap a shift or check their work schedules from a mobile device.
  • Create more opportunities for Gen Z to interact with management, build trust on the job. Seeking advancement, Gen Z employees want recognition and respect (70%) and to receive feedback on their performance (69%) — but only 35% feel they are getting adequate face time with their direct supervisor.

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“A one-size-fits-all approach to hiring no longer works,” said Zenk. “It’s imperative that HR is tailoring its messaging and recruitment initiatives depending on who they’re targeting. When recruiting Gen Z, it’s all about meeting this digital generation where they are, whether on social media or in the classroom. Direct engagement with schools and community groups through initiatives like MFG Day creates an incredible opportunity to demonstrate first-hand the appeal of working in modern manufacturing.”

“Educating and engaging the next-generation workforce early and often is one of the most important factors in shifting perceptions of the industry and closing the skills gap,” said Russell Richey, research director at Endeavor Business Media, the parent company of IndustryWeek. “We were very pleased to see from the survey that collaboration with local schools and colleges is the most common strategy employed by HR leaders to attract Gen Z@ talent: 53% are involved in developing programs and coursework that help teach students real-world technical skills related to manufacturing work. This bodes well for the future of manufacturing.”

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